LIAISON OFFICE

A Liaison Office is in the nature of a representative office set up primarily to explore and understand the business and investment climate.

A liaison Office is not permitted to undertake any commercial / trading/ industrial activity, directly or indirectly, and is required to maintain itself out of inward remittances received from abroad through normal banking channels.

Activities Permitted:

  • Representing in India the parent Company / group Companies
  • Promoting export/ import from/ to India
  • Promoting technical / financial collaborations between the parent / group companies and companies in India
  • Acting as a communication channel between the parent company and Indian companies

Approval / Incorporation

Any foreign company intending to open a liaison Office in India is required to obtain prior approval from the RBI, the apex foreign exchange management authority in India. Approval is usually granted for three years and can be renewed on expiry thereof. In addition to above, the foreign company is also required to obtain a Certificate of establishment of place of business in India from the Registrar of Companies (ROC).

Typical Points about Branch Office

  • Any foreign company intending to open a liaison Office in India is required to obtain prior approval from the RBI, the apex foreign exchange management authority in India. Approval is usually granted for three years and can be renewed on expiry thereof.
  • In addition to above, the foreign company is also required to obtain a Certificate of establishment of place of business in India from the Registrar of Companies (ROC).

Suitability of a Liaison Office

The liaison office generally acts as a communication channel between the parent company overseas and its present or prospective customers in India. The liaison office can also be set up to establish business contacts or gather market intelligence to promote the products or services of the overseas parent company. The liaison Office cannot undertake any business activity in India nor earn any income in India. The liaison Office has to meet its entire expenses from funds received from the parent company through normal banking channels. At the time of closure of the liaison Office, the RBI grants permission to repatriate the balance in the Indian bank account to the parent company. Since the liaison Office is not permitted to earn any income, it should not constitute a taxable entity in India. However, the liaison Office would be required to withhold tax from certain payments and hence to comply with the requisite tax withholding requirements under the domestic tax law.